Chapter 3

A knock on the door sounded in Hugo Strange’s penthouse and the Professor opened the door with a smile. He had been expecting Mr. Kent for a couple of hours now. The fact that he lasted this long without a visit spoke highly of the alien’s resistance to his control. He was right to take this process as slow as possible so keep his prey from suspecting anything.

“I’m sorry for coming unannounced, Hugo,” Clark said apologetically. “I really needed to talk to someone and you were the first person to come to mind.”

Strange wanted to sneer at the unsuspecting hero, but instead he used his most soothing smile. “It is no problem, Clark. Please do come in.” He said inviting his patient into his temporary home.

The psychiatrist watched intently behind his soft understanding grey eyes as Kent came into the room. If he were not paying attention, he would have missed the small sigh that the muscle man gave as he entered.

“Don’t forget to take off your shoes,” Strange commanded gently as he walked to his office. When perfecting his mind control techniques, he had learned that small commands that were easily followed by his prey would cement his hold over his patient’s mind.

He held the door open to his office as he ushered the unsuspecting hero into the room. Strange gestured for his guest to sit as he walked over to the bar. “Would you like something to drink?” He asked as Kent settled himself on one of the chair in front of the fireplace.

“That would be great!” Clark said with a happy smile as he watched the flames dance before his eyes.

Strange smiled as he poured the ginger ale into the glass. It looked, smelled, and tasted like ginger ale, but it was laced with drugs that helped put his victim in a state where his suggestions would be placed firmly into his mind. When he got this assignment, he studied as much about Superman that he could. Unfortunately, not much was known about the mental capacity of Kryptonians. The normal technique he used on humans might not work on this rare alien species. His careful preparations involved months of learning every type of mind control technique.

Hugo brought Clark his drink and sat sipping his own tea while watching his prey gulp down the liquid. He smiled at the unsuspecting hero drinking not knowing that he would soon be addicted to the substance. He left nothing to chance when dealing with such a powerful alien.

“What can I do for you, Clark?” The Professor said with a small smile.

The hero nervously adjusted his glasses. “I have been having to deal with a great deal of stress and all of my stress relief techniques have not been working. I know we have just become friends, but I wanted to talk with you and see if we can figure out what the problem is.”

“There is no reason to be nervous about this Clark,” Hugo said in his most soothing voice. “We all go through times of stress and talking about it with a close friend or a professional is often the best course of action to take. I myself have talked with a couple of close colleagues during stressful times of my life.”

Kent looked at the floor as he struggled to speak. “The stress I have been feeling as become so intense that I have been unable to concentrate on doing my work.”

“What do you think is cause of your stress?” Hugo asked intently. He made sure his tone was soft to not pressure the alien to freak out and leave. The illusion of trust was the cornerstone of his breakdown of the alien’s defences.

“There is always a lot of stress at work as you can well imagine.” Clark said as he struggled to talk.

Hugo looked critically at his patient while looking comforting at the same time. The alien obviously struggled to keep his greatest secret. Any normal human would have been broken by now. His combined techniques that he learned from Mad Hatter and Poison Ivy had been assaulting the hero since he came into the room. The room was filled with a subtle version of Ivy’s pheromones and he used the lighting and fire to gently hypnotise Kent into trusting him. All this combined with the drugs his patient was ingesting should have broken this super-man.

The Professor stood to his feet and stuck his hand into his pocket that was filled with ground red kryptonite. It was the same sample that he used last night at the party to break through Kent’s alien defences. He placed his slightly covered hand on his prey’s broad shoulder and squeezed softly. “I do not think that this is stress caused by work. You have been working for the Daily Planet for five years and if the stress is just starting to surface, it is most likely something new in your life.”

Clark’s eyes started to lose focus as the combined assault against his mind was starting to break through his superhuman defenses. “There is another cause of stress in my life, but I need to make sure you can keep this a secret. Too many lives are at stake if this information gets out.”

“Patient confidentiality is the foundation of my practice, Clark.” Hugo said soothingly. “You can trust me with any secret.”

Hugo watched the naked emotions play across his victims face as his blue eyes looked into his own. He was very close to completing the next step of his plan.

Clark stood up and faced the man who manufactured his trust. His hands shook as he unbuttoned his shirt and revealed the ‘S’ shield underneath. “I am Superman,” He said simply.

The Professor resisted the urge to gloat as his patient’s greatest secret was revealed to him. Although he had already figured out that Clark Kent and Superman were the same person having the alien admit it to him gave him a lot of control to mold the hero into what his client wanted him to be.

Kent buttoned his shirt back up and sat back down staring at the dancing flames. “I thought you would be shocked. Do you not believe me?”

“I am your friend, Clark.” Strange said reassuringly as he placed his contaminated hand back on his patient’s shoulder. “There is no reason that you would lie to me. You don’t have any signs of any mental disorders and this might explain why you are feeling overburdened with your stress.”

The unsuspecting hero smiled as he took another drink from his glass. “You’re the first person to find out and not ask for proof. You don’t know how much that means to me.”

“Friends don’t need to ask for proof. I trust you Clark and the fact that you trust me enough to reveal this secret to me shows how much you trust me. I would never betray that trust, Clark.” Hugo said with a smile while lying through his teeth. By the time he was done with this alien, Superman would be completely broken.

“Let’s see what we can do to get you relaxed,” Hugo said softly as he prepared for the next step of the destruction of Superman. “Watch the flames and take a deep breath in.”

Clark did as he was told as Hugo watched his eyes follow the movements of the flames.

“Now slowly let the breath out and then take another deep breath in just as slowly. Let go off all of your thoughts and empty your mind as you take slow deep breaths in and out.”

The pheromones circulating the room would be more effective as the mentally vulnerable hero followed his instructions.

After a couple of minutes, Strange watched as Kent returned to that state of relaxation that would allow him to plant suggestions into his mind.

“Are you relaxed?” Hugo asked his patient.

“Yes,” a soft reply answered.

“Since I am a trusted friend, you will come back here tomorrow night to talk about how to relieve your stress. This time you will come as Superman and not Clark Kent. When you do this exercise, you will not feel stressed out for an hour, however after that the stress will come back even worse than before. You will feel the need to come and talk to your friend, Hugo Strange, to figure out the source of the stress, but you must come back as Superman. Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

“Now take a deep breath in and slowly come back to your original state of mind. Let that breath go as the flames fade from your mind. Breath in, and out.”

Strange watched as Clark’s eyes start to focus once again. “How do you feel Clark?”

Kent looked at him with relaxation written all over his face. “Wow,” He said softly. “I haven’t felt this relaxed in a long time.”

“If you ever get to the point where your stress is too much for you to handle, you should do this exercise. It will help you deal with your stress until we can get to the cause of the stress.”

The unsuspecting hero nodded slowly as he looked gratefully at his new trusted friend. Hugo was sure that Kent never felt as close to anyone as he felt towards him. “Thanks for all your help, Hugo.”

“Now if you excuse me, I have a patient coming here at any moment.” Strange said as he escorted Clark to his front door. “Feel free to come visit anytime that you need more or if you need to talk. My door is always open to you, Clark.”

The reporter shook his friend’s hand and walked out the door with a smile on his face. As Strange closed the door, he could not help but to shake his head. He walked over to the phone and dialed a number. “He just left,” he said to his client. “Everything is going to plan.”

As he hung up the phone, Professor Strange walked back into his office. The next step of the destruction of Superman was complete and the poor fool didn’t even have a clue.


Chapter 4

The next day was much better for Clark as he frequently performed the relaxation exercises that Hugo had taught him. He was not only able to finish his article about Superman’s fight against Metallo, but he managed to work with Lois on her Lex Luthor story.

Sitting across from each other in the Daily Planet conference room, Clark watched Lois going over the research and notes from her investigation.

“There is something fishy going on here. I have a list of all the donations that Scot Stevens received and none of them can be linked to Luthor. With as much support that he gave to Stevens during the campaign, you would think that he would have donated some kind of funds.”

Clark adjusted his glasses as he looked thoughtfully out of the wall length windows that showed the skyline of Metropolis. “Luthor is too smart to make this kind of obvious mistake. I think he wants us to think there is something suspicious about his involvement with Mr. Steven’s campaign. It might be a red herring to keep our attention on the campaign while he attends to something else.”

Lois nodded slowly as she looked down at the hours of work that she had to do to make it this far. “I’ll broaden my search and look for any other activities that Luthor is doing that might be a story.” She said sighing at the sudden size of her project.

Clark was just about to offer to help when his super hearing picked up screaming from the direction of downtown. “I really have to use the bathroom,” He said pretending to do the potty dance. “I’ll be right back!”

Rushing out of the conference room, Clark went to the stairs that led to the roof. Using his super speed, he changed out of his civilian clothes into the familiar red and blue uniform that fit snugly over his muscled body. Storing his clothes in the secret compartment in his cape, he made it to the roof in seconds and was flying in the air to where the screams were coming from.

In the downtown area, people were running and screaming as a giant robot picked up random cars and threw them at random places. Superman hovered in the air looking closely at the robot. It looked like an exact replica of the best selling toy robot from last Christmas. It looked like Toy Man was up to his old tricks.

With a blur of red and blue, Superman intercepted several cars that were being thrown at the fleeing civilians. Gently setting the cars down one by one with in seconds, the hero flew at full

speed and with a single punch knocked off the robotic head.

The robot swung blindly around the hero looking for a way to squash him for interfering. Superman gasped as the stress that he had been dealing with suddenly hit him like a ton of bricks. Holding his head, he tried to quickly perform his breathing exercises while making sure that the robot did not destroy anything else.

During one deep breath, Superman suddenly found himself flying back. He desperately tried to regain his balance as the stress once again hit him hard. Bricks and concrete struck him from behind as his powerful body smashed into the First Bank of Metropolis. He could hear screams as he smashed through the wall and landed in the middle of the bank lobby.

Superman got groggily up to his feet and tried to suppress the stress that was crippling him. He looked through the hole in the wall that he created and narrowed his eyes at the headless robot still trying to destroy the city. His heat vision activated and hit the robot directly in the chest where its main circuitry was located. Sparks flew out of the robot’s chest as it jerked twice before tumbling down on the street.

It took all of Superman’s willpower to fly in the air and make sure there was no immediate threat. Seeing that no one was trapped under the rubble, he uncharastically flew from the scene without helping to clean up. The stress that pounded in his head was almost too much for him to fly as he made his way to Hugo Strange’s apartment. He needed to get to the bottom of these stress episodes as soon as possible before there was threat to the city that he could not handle.

Professor Hugo Strange smiled as he watched the footage of Superman’s fight with Toyman’s robot on the news. The news was being filmed live with Cat Grant covering the footage of the fight. These attacks on the city in the past two weeks has been a part of his plan to break his prey for his client.

As Ms. Grant was commenting on Superman’s sudden flight from the scene, Strange rushed to his office to make sure that all his preparations were complete. He expected Superman to come straight here after suffering a stress attack during the fight. His luck that it would happen at the exact moment that it happened would only help him in his goal.

After making sure everything was perfect, Strange walked out of the office just in time to see Superman land on his balcony. He had to admit that there was not a more perfect specimen in all of the planet. His uniform clung to every muscle, radiating power. To be the one who actually broke and tamed the alien would be the perfect test to see if he was ready to pursue his own personal goal.

The Professor walked from the living room to the balcony door as he smiled at the man who thought he was his friend. “This is quite the unexpected surprise, Superman. What can I do for you?”

Superman frowned as he felt his head throbbing from the stress attack he was dealing with. “I had another stress attack while fighting Toyman, Hugo. I need your help to find source of this stress.”

Strange wanted to laugh at the distress his ‘patient’ was feeling. For all his power, he certainly had no clue. Then again the effort that he had employed to get the alien to this point was beyond anything that the hero had faced before.

“Come in and I will do what I can,” Strange said soothingly as he placed a red kryptonite coated hand on the bulging bicep of his prey.

The Professor escorted The Man of Steel into his study as he admired the muscle magnificence of his prey. He could understand why his client wanted this alien tamed. Even as a straight man, he could not help but to admire the beauty of this muscled behemoth.

Setting Superman on his couch, Strange went to the bar and started preparing the hero’s special drink as his prey started doing his breathing exercises. This time he didn’t even bother to ask. The Man of Steel had been conditioned enough that he accepted the drugged drink with a grateful smile as relaxation settled over his powerful body.

As Strange settled himself on the chair looking directly at the hero laying on the couch, he took out a pad and pen and started to take down notes. “I have been thinking about the kind of stress that you have been experiencing, and I need to ask a few questions that might make you feel uncomfortable. I would not ask them if I did not think that it might be linked to your stress attacks.”

Superman sipped his spiked drink as he lazily watched the flames in the fireplace letting the feeling of ultimate relaxation run through his body. “You can ask me anything that you want, Hugo.” He said warmly.

“How is your sex life?”

The hero blinked as he looked startled at the question. “What does my sex life have to do with these stress attacks?” he asked as his face started to blush.

Strange put on his most soothing and understanding smile as he secretly reveled in watching the hero squirm uncomfortably. “I only ask because this kind of stress attack can be linked to problems in a sexual nature. Men and women have needs that they need to fulfill to lead stress free lives and the lack of sex can cause frustration to turn into stress that can build up over time.”

Superman turned even redder as he looked down at his drink. “I am a virgin,” He mumbled not believing that he was admitting this to anyone.

“It is believed that you and Ms. Lane were having a relationship,” Strange said softly.

“It’s not that simple,” Superman stammered. “I love Lois, but I don’t know if she loves me for being Superman or if she could love me for being Clark Kent. I can’t be with someone in that way until I know that it is with the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with.”

Strange could hardly believe the information that he was hearing. The most powerful man in the universe was a sexual virgin? He wanted to laugh at loud at the ammunition that the alien just gave him. His upbringing in Kansas probably had something to do with this bashfulness about talking about sex, and it was exactly what he needed to break the alien. “Do you trust, Ms. Lane?” Hugo asked softly as he watch the uncomfortable hero turn even redder.

“I want to trust her,” He said sheepishly.

“What is holding you back from trusting a woman who you think you love?”

Superman sighed as he looked into the dancing flames. “I don’t know if she loves me for the real me or the hero that she sees fighting crime. I also don’t know if she would keep my secrets or would do her job as a reporter and reveal them to the world.”

Hugo set his pad and pen down as he crossed his legs looking intently at the alien. “If you can’t trust Ms. Lane then there is no way to have a healthy relationship with her. I trust your judgement that you are unsure how she would react since you know her much better that I do. This might be one of the reasons for your stress attacks. Between the stress in trying to trust Ms. Lane combined with your duties as Superman and Clark Kent, you might be trying to handle more than even you could handle. I can see that this has only added to your stress, so let’s do your breathing exercises to help you let go and unwind.”

Hugo stood up and watched as Superman slowly reduced his mind to where his suggestion could be successfully implanted. He placed his kryptonite coated hand on his prey’s shoulders and whispered in his ear, “You will break up with Lois and tell her that you will not be seeing her anymore. Although you will feel bad about the breakup, you will be at this level of relaxation for 24 hours. You will agree to come and see me everyday to talk about your problems.”

The Professor watched as he let the alien stay in this vulnerable state for several more minutes. After slowly pulling his prey’s mind back to reality, he walked over to his desk. “I’m afraid is all the time that I can give you right now. I have another appointment coming at anytime. Would it be okay, if I put you on my schedule so that we both have time to talk and address your problems?”

He watched as Superman nodded with a smile. The level of trust he now had with the alien was probably on the same level as his adoptive parents at this time. The Professor could not wait until the alien realized that he had fallen in his trap. “That would be great, Hugo. I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me about this.”

“Anything for a friend,” Strange said as he pretended to jot the appointment in his book. “Come back at 4 PM tomorrow and we will pick up where we left off. If for some reason there is an emergency, stop by here day or night.”

The Professor escorted Superman to his balcony where he watched the unsuspecting hero take off in the air. His smile turned into a snarl as his plan slowly unfolded.

 

Todd Fleming

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